Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

At 1:52 I struggled to force a stubborn key into the broken lock of my front door, slamming my shoulder in futility against the oxidized copper in an attempt to loosen the lock from its nest. Nothing gave. To the front door I shambled without care for the irises, crushing a terracotta statue beneath my feet. The back door did not yield to my key; a different lock. I stumbled to the back gate, pushing it to the side without a care and scraping past the loose bits of free weights left behind by a forgetful housemate and a rusted out old bicycle; I rounded the cobbled-together stones of the walkway and jumped up the steps of the wooden deck. I tried to squeeze through the thin opening of the back sliding door left open a crack for the cat to come and go to no success. Contemplated the costs of a broken window.
No matter. Try and try again. The door gave way against brute force and my determined knee, smashing inward with a resounding crack that left me shocked and still for a moment, standing in the moonlit doorway without much thought for my next move. My uneasy steps guided me to the bedroom; my cat looped around my ankles in a somewhat delightful figure eight as I removed my clothes.
Naked, I attached myself to the greasy leather of the chair with all the ease of velcro, edging the shuffle button on my iTunes to start a Rolling Stones song. Honky Tonk Women, I think. I left the whimsical button on; I love to live dangerously.
My browser started in a fever, flickering onto a porn site. Curious as to my stamina under alcohol’s numbing hand, I reached for my penis and clicked a particularly promising link marked “fucked HARD” with no other guide. I tugged at my cock for several minutes to no avail; iTunes gives me Gogol Bordello. I start to fantasize about previous sexual conquests, soon noticing a scab-covered wound on my arm. Taking advantage of my numbed nerve endings I claw the wound open until it gapes and yawns at me, blood welling up as generously as oil.
The video’s getting into full swing. Sex floods my mind as the wound pumps more platelets out of my system. Music resounding is Cream; it ends suddenly and returns to the Stones. Mick sings along to the beat of my hand as my eyes roll heavenward to the sound of a faceless woman moaning.
The blood tips down my arm, snapping over my eyes and drawing my tongue to the spill. I know I am affixed permanently to this chair. I lap the copper red onto my tongue, focusing on the bent form on my computer screen.
I come without much sensation thanks to the vodka, yet I feel a sense of accomplishment; I beat the drug at it’s own tricks. No whiskey dick here.
My hand wipes itself sullenly on a tissue, reluctant to part with its achievement. I flick the tissue into the trash can and am startled by the sudden furry feeling around my legs; the cat is back.
Modest Mouse, what the fuck? No. Switch.
Sublime, Slow Ride. Yes.
“She takes her time when it’s time to get ready…”
I am naked and soaked in sweat and semen, epoxied to a chair and clearing the vestiges of Russian ice from my head. The drums drill themselves into my head like burrowing insects searching for protein.
“Maybe just the way you move so slow…”
Lady Gaga.
The White Stripes. Okay.
This is what I sleep to.



Posted: April 11, 2011 in Anger, Dark, Life, Musings, Rant, Slam, Thoughts, Ugly

Don’t you dare fucking think
for a moment that I’ll take
self-pity street! I drink
criticism straight, no chaser; fake
ME out, you say? You can try and fail,
overly polite disrespecting sonofabitch!
I’m resplendent with skill to nail
words deep into your brain, invisible itch!
Ain’t no reason I should be rejected thrice,
you hardly even know me! Your unfeelin’
collection of faceless masks ice
cold left your souls reelin’
deep in a snowfall that left you numb
to the plainest spoken word.
Now nurse your broken jaw makin’ you dumb,
maybe you should’ve taken a second or third
look at the letters so carelessly tossed aside,
makin’ a nice guy turn mean!
I’m a reject and it hurts my pride deep inside
that place kept clean
by creative construction that let me function
day to day with my failures adorned on my chest
as body armor for the fools hidin’ at every junction!
I accept I ain’t perfect but as for all the rest
you’re damn morons unable to see my vision!
And it won’t be long again before the pen hits paper
and again my faithful words will be arisen,
I’ll turn your fill-in-the-blank letter to vapor!
Don’t! for my own fucking sake
be the snake takin’ words out of my throat
before I can make a debut and slake
my thirst for written word, you can quote
me on it! And I say this for every time
I look on and smile at the red-pen pretender gods
making slashes through masterpieces sublime
when they never had the time to see through the facade
that they think is all bad but it ain’t, I know it’s good,
and I don’t give a FUCK if it ain’t understood!

Back in the prehistoric times of elementary school, you’d recognize ten-year-old me on the playground with ease; that bright flop of blond hair so pale it was bleached-bone white in California sunlight. I was never in the sun too much though. More often you would find me sitting on the benches under a canopy of oak trees, Goosebumps or Animorphs clenched tight in my hands as I took the fifteen free minutes I had in the best way possible. More often than not, when that bell rang to draw us back to class, I’d keep my book locked tight under my desk, the text exposed so I could read during the lesson. Funnily enough, out of the many reasons I was sent to the office after getting in trouble, reading in class ranked pretty high. My mom would get calls from teachers who would alternately complain about my lack of attention and praise my voracious reading, much to her amusement. Back before that hair darkened and grew longer, I was Tweety Bird; short and with a big head, a mop of yellow hair and a penchant for causing trouble for those prowling Sylvesters teaching my classes.

Seventh grade. The summer was an ocean to cross, and the new land I found across it was puberty. Girls I’d grown up with for years (who had always been fascinating) had become curved, perfumed beauties, and this was one of two reasons that I decided to try the rock star mantle on and grow my hair down to my shoulders. The second reason was also related to women, though not in a way you’d expect. My haircut venue had switched from Contempo (an Eden filled with gorgeous older women, chiefly my mother’s friend Diane, whose body would press warmly against my shoulder as she sculpted my hair) to Monty’s Barbershop. Needless to say, Monty was not a worthy successor to Diane. So I told my mom, no more haircuts. She breathed a sigh of relief for her checkbook and applauded my free spirit. My father, on the other hand, made snide remarks about his feeling that I looked more like the women I wanted to pursue than a Kurt Cobain. I didn’t care about his opinion by that point; I was doing what I wanted. And I made damn sure from then on that he never got me down about my choices.

Here I was, my junior year at a new school. A year before, I had said goodbye to the long hair and cut it down short as could be; Dad was elated that his son looked respectable for once. But once again I was doing it for myself, and mostly for the ladies. The long hair was reminiscent of the stoner culture so prevalent in my town, and a stoner I would never be. Girls liked the respectable look, and so I started wearing button-down, collared shirts from stores like American Eagle and the Gap to go with my new school and the new image I was carefully crafting. That year, I found a new hair stylist, Lindsay, who was twice as beautiful as her name would suggest. I remember closing my eyes as she washed my hair, reveling in the feeling of female contact that had been lost since those early days with Diane. She cut the hair down short and styled it up with a pomade to form a fauxhawk, a cut I admired both in name and look. I looked at it in the mirror after she was done, proud and preening. For the first time, I was truly satisfied with my appearance. I was smooth and suave, fitting into my new skin with an elegance I surprised myself with. I turned to Lindsay and told her I loved it. She smiled at me and nodded, then said, “You might want to try some Rogaine, your hair’s a little thin up top there.”


Posted: April 18, 2009 in City, Dark, Imagery, Life, Musings, Night, Snippet, Thoughts, Women

Walking out of the restaurant, I remember turning back to take my nephew’s hand and seeing her, heading easily towards me. I remember hoisting my nephew up into my arms and smiling at her, pleased and slightly wary to see her.
Seeing Naomi had always put me into a sense of caution, and I’ve never figured it out. It’s like I feel my every move will be judged for its worth, as if I’m some sort of marionette on display for a queen.
She blinked, as if she couldn’t believe her eyes, seeming not to recognize me for a moment. No surprise there; the last time she had seen me was when I had hair down to my shoulders and a perpetual outfit of jeans and a t-shirt.
I remember that day my hair was short and swept back from my forehead, given some lift a few dabs of wax. I had a goatee and sideburns running down my face, a loose-fitting blue-and-white striped long sleeve, and dark khakis. I looked like a completely different person.
And I was. The looks and the confident smile took her off guard, I could tell. Where were the downcast eyes, the sloppy clothes, the quiet demeanor that had defined me for so long? I liked the effect, I have to admit, the changes that have made me into this person.
The wariness I felt was gone; the balance of power, which had always been firmly in her court over the years we had known each other, had shifted my way. She gave me her trademark one-armed hug, a lazy movement that belied her true lethargy, and I returned it with another broad smile.
Back from when my family and I moved from Meiner’s Oaks into Ojai proper is about how long we had known each other. I remember her mom, Diane, was friends with my mom; she would always cut my hair at her Contempo beauty salon.
(Not until years later would I realize that it was a woman’s beauty salon. Before that I had just assumed men never came around while I was there.)
We had met through the parental connection, along with some other kids from my neighborhood. Always there was that uncomfortable caution I felt with her, the feeling of the marionette, of the caged animal watched by its captors. Perhaps not that extreme, but you can understand how I felt. Intimidated, perhaps because she was one of a precursor of those girls I would encounter throughout school life; pretty, popular, and with next to zero interest in me (for some reason, the latter was an attractive quality).
But standing in that parking lot with her, as we talked about college and plans for the summer, all I could think of was how short she really was. Almost half my height, really. It almost made me laugh, though of course I didn’t. I had been wary of this small girl? Afraid that if I said the wrong thing it would haunt me for the rest of my life? This was the real evidence for me, the final fact that I had changed from quiet, unassuming and passive Luke to someone who could actually interact with those around him with confidence and poise.
We said our goodbyes, and I gave her one last look into her deep brown eyes. I couldn’t see anything, least of all anything scary or intimidating. They were just blank, and that made me sad. I could see the choices she had made had never been the best they could have been, and it reflected in those deep brown eyes.
I remember she turned and walked away, and I gave her one last look before turning and taking my nephew’s hand.

The crowd swells up before us like a surging ocean, undulating with the rhythm of the music being played. Guitars being slashed by angry fingers and hard plastic picks, drums being smashed by white knuckles and long wooden sticks; I can feel that soulless power screaming inside and out of me.
The singer howls like a demon and I feel a smile tugging at my lips, his fervor infectious, pushing me further into the crowd. Beside me, Eric howls along with the band, throwing devil’s horns into the sky. He grins ferociously at me, heading towards a small break in the constantly moving crowd. We elbow our way past our fellow patrons and make it to the fringe of what seems to be perhaps a refuge.
In a way, it is. A mosh pit has erupted near the edge of the stage, people bouncing in and out, laughing and shoving aside those in their way. Hard-eyed punks with steel-toed boots and mohawks, metal freaks with leather jackets and huge spikes; everyone gets their ass kicked equally on this battlefield.
Eric dives in right away, his skinny body almost immune to the wildly swinging bodies in the pit. He dodges and dips and whirls around the others, but still manages to get smashed to the side by a punk with three nose rings dripping down his face. Eric snarls at the guy, but any animosity is forgotten as two, three, four more people do exactly the same to him.
I hang back, reluctant to take the chance of intense pain and possibly injury. I watch carefully, however, keeping my eyes more on the pit than the band that’s throwing notes of gasoline onto the glorious fire before them. It looks fun.
Eric notices my entrancement, calls for my attention, his voice lost too easily in the crowd’s roar. I shake my head slowly, smiling a little. I try to focus on the music, bobbing my head to the rhythm like the hundreds of zombies all around me.
My eyes keep flicking back to the real action, and I can’t help myself. When and where else would I have a chance like this?
“Fuck it,” I mutter, shoving two dreadlocked chicks on the edge of the pit out of the way like two swinging double doors. I dive in.
I plow through the first few stragglers trying to escape the pit, sending them flying back into the others and prompting a fresh wave of spinning attacks from all around. For once in my life my much-maligned bulk is being put to good use. I smile slowly, pushing further into the crowd.
“Just another crowd!” screeches the singer, his voice rising high over the crowd’s buzz, and the heathens clustering around the stage let out a roar. My grin intensifies as the bumping bodies begin to match their brutality with the beat of the music, a syncopating rhythm of kicking and shoving and punching.
There were times when you fear for your life, certainly, but for me there was a bigger issue: my precariously hanging spectacles were often in danger, coming close to being knocked off several times. Thankfully they didn’t, but such risks are what you take.
Strangely enough, for a large crowd of bloodthirsty rockers, they were surprisingly gentle. If it looked like you were about to fall to the ground and be trampled upon, someone would reach out from the ring of onlookers on the fringe of the pit and hurl you back into the action. Conversely, if you tried to break out of the pit before a song was over, people would throw you bodily back into the mass, unwilling to let you get off easy.
As we thrashed, Eric finally spotted me, and threw a fist into the air, cheering triumphantly. Earlier, I had told him I wouldn’t be moshing, and his jubilation at my entrance into the pit lightened my heart. I caught onto his happy face for a moment longer before losing him in the sea of limbs, snapping back into reality to beat back the beefy shoulder of one of the metal freaks.
The crowd surged and cheered, an independent organism autonomous of the rigid world outside of it. I can feel with an unshaken belief that this community, in all their madness and fury, care for one another, care for complete strangers enough to save them from being hurt.
Which is more than I can say for the rest of the world.

I can see dust and feel the ash filtering through my system, crumbly gray flakes that coat the inside of my throat like so many tiles. Every breath is contaminated, every step I take brings me closer to collapse, yet I push on. Full of the fear that clings to every mote of dust in my mouth, I know that if I falter once I will not be moving on.

My life has gone by in stages of death and birth, nothing more. The struggle to survive is implicitly linked to every relationship I cultivate, every animal I befriend, every daisy that I crush beneath my heel.

The ash that crowds my lungs is merely a symptom of a larger affliction, one that we receive at birth: life. The ash is no more an enemy than are my fingernails and hair as they persist to grow. It is a constant of life, one that I knew was to come and one that I know is here to stay.

I can see the devil’s apprentice, a man with buzz-cut gray hair and long thin sideburns. Tattoos snake up and down his arms like twisting wires and his fingertips grind against the steel chords of his midnight guitar. The slim spectacles glinting on his nose conceal nothing as he pours his soul into the strumming and plucking of strings.
On either side of the devil’s apprentice stand two with instruments of gold clutched in their gifted claws. A saxophone, a trumpet, they squeal and stamp their song into the crowd. They are red in the face, mouths bulging with fire and brimstone. Their fingers tap out the whirling crescendos that dazzle and blind before they lay their weapons to rest.
The devil’s apprentice grins now; a tongue of flame escapes from his maw.
The roiling undercurrent of sound that pulses beneath guitar licks and snares and shrieks can not only be heard but felt as a wild-haired demon kisses his thick strings with steady fingertips. He stoically stands, a sharp contrast to the devil’s apprentice, a solitary and silent companion to the intense threads of fire issuing from the midnight guitar and the golden ones. His bass guitar is obsidian and sharp angles rimmed with white gold.
Behind the four black and white imps lies a master of rhythm in steady repose. One two three four, he sets the tone and pulls puppet strings like he controls their every move with his shining beats. He flicks the drumsticks across his set of tightly drawn skin and hard bone, he relaxes. He can feel the power behind his staccato beats and thumping rhythm.
The devil’s apprentice still bares his teeth in a grotesque fashion, a maniacal smile.
He laughs.
He laughs and drops the guitar pick to the ground and unleashes a new wave of sound and pounds away at the crowd with dancing tapping springing fingertips.
The devil’s apprentice is slowing, swaying from side to side. He slows, he relaxes.
He stops.
And the crowd bows low as the Devil’s apprentice swings his arms high.